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Special Collections on the First World War

While there are of course references to the First World War throughout Special Collections, these are the collections which have most to offer researchers.  We're continuing to investigate our collections and will add new resources to this page as we discover them.

J.B. Priestley

Bradford-born writer J.B. Priestley served in the British Army from 1914-1919, in the ranks with the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, then as an officer with the Devonshires.  The Archive includes his letters home, photographs and possessions.  We also have many books and articles in which he directly or indirectly wrote about his experience, including the memoir Margin Released.  Find out more:

  • Number 28 of our 100 Objects online exhibition - Priestley and the Great War.
  • J.B. Priestley: Soldier Writer Painter, at the Bradford Industrial Museum from 19 April-17 August 2014 featured letters and the other archive objects.
  • Bradford in the Great War (History Press, 2007) includes a chapter by Alison Cullingford (the Special Collections Librarian) telling the story of Priestley's war experience through his writings.
  • The text of the war letters was reprinted in Priestley's Wars (Great Northern Books, 2008).

Bradford Technical College

The Bradford Technical College (BTC) was of course much affected by the War.  Our records of the period in the BTC Archive include references to life in Bradford and to staff and students serving in the armed forces.  You can find the catalogue on the BTC Archive webpage.

The University of Bradford and Bradford College share a common ancestor: Bradford Technical College.  The heritage collections at Bradford College include plenty of material from the War period.

BTC was under local council control during the War, so the West Yorkshire Archives Service (website currently down, link will return when access restored - August 2016) holds many relevant Council records.  Bradford: Remembering 1914-1918 by Kathryn Hughes (History Press, 2015) uses these records and many more to shed light on the City's experiences.

Peace and politics collections

Our project to catalogue the archive of Serbian philosopher Dmitrije Mitrinovic is uncovering fascinating, hitherto unseen, Great War material.  Active in nationalist campaigning against the Austro-Hungarian empire, Mitrinovic came to London in 1914 to escape imprisonment. 

Peace Pamphlets.  Many of our pamphlets discuss the rights and wrongs of this War, including the Papers for War Time series.

Newspaper collections include runs of the Bradford Pioneer and Reynolds News for this period.  These papers present independent socialist perspectives and are full of rich detail about the worlds their readers inhabited.

Research Papers of David J. Mitchell on Military Nonconformity includes correspondence and interviews with "absolutists" and other conscientious objectors during the 1960s.  Catalogue now online, follow the links on the page.

more to follow ...